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[Slashdot] - UK To Require Social Media To Protect 'Democratically Important' Content

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Long-awaited proposals in the UK to regulate social media are a "recipe for censorship," campaigners have said, which fly in the face of the government's attempts to strengthen free speech elsewhere in Britain. From a report: The online safety bill, which was introduced to parliament on Wednesday, hands Ofcom the power to punish social networks which fail to remove "lawful but harmful" content. The proposals were welcomed by children's safety campaigns, but theyhave come under fire from civil liberties organisations. "Applying a health and safety approach to everybody's online speech combined with the threat of massive fines against the platforms is a recipe for censorship and removal of legal content," said Jim Killock, the director of the Open Rights Group. "Facebook does not operate prisons and is not the police. Trying to make platforms do the job of law enforcement through technical means is a recipe for failure." The centre-right CPS thinktank was similarly critical. "It is for parliament to determine what is sufficiently harmful that it should not be allowed, not for Ofcom or individual platforms to guess," it said. "If something is legal to say, it should be legal to type," CPS's director, Robert Colvile, added. In its update to the bill from the white paper first drafted by Theresa May's government in 2019, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport added sections intended to prevent harm to free expression. Social networks will now need to perform and publish "assessments of their impact on freedom of expression."

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